COLLIN COUNTY, Texas, Dec. 16, 2010 – Audrey Rowe, deputy administrator of USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, today recognized Minshew Elementary School in McKinney, Texas for their excellence in school nutrition.
During her visit to the school, Rowe congratulated Minshew Elementary School students, food service staff and school officials for earning gold award in USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge. She also discussed the administration's priorities for enhancing school meals and the health of the nation's children.
"We are reminded about the importance of providing our children access to nutritious meals so they are able to learn, thrive and grow," said Rowe. "Through our HealthierUS School Challenge, USDA recognizes schools that meet the highest standards for creating and maintaining healthy school environments by promoting good nutrition and physical activity."
The Challenge is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Schools participating in the Challenge voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education and provide opportunities for physical activity.
In February, the First Lady and USDA called upon stakeholders to double the number of Challenge school awards within in a year and add 1,000 schools per year for two years after that. Schools participating in the Challenge are recognized with Gold of Distinction, Gold, Silver, or Bronze-level certification. As of October, 940 Challenge awards have been made to schools in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Challenge certification also includes monetary incentives for schools - $2,000 for Gold Award of Distinction, $1,500 for Gold, $1,000 for Silver and $500 for Bronze.
First Lady Michelle Obama actively supports the Challenge with innovative Let's Move! initiatives, including Chefs Move to Schools, a collaboration that links chefs with nearby schools, and most recently with the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition, launched in early September. This competition brings together chefs, school nutrition professionals, students and parents who work in teams to develop nutritious, delicious, kid-approved recipes for use in schools. Recipes must be submitted by Dec. 30. Winners will have a chance to compete in a national cook-off and $12,000 in prizes.
Improving child nutrition is also a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that recently passed Congress and was signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. This legislation authorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the child nutrition programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger.